Real Estate News
- AOL Real Estate AOL Real Estate
- HousingWire HousingWire
- NAR Realtor.org - REALTOR Magazine Daily News NAR Realtor.org - REALTOR Magazine Daily News
Filed under: Buying, Financing, RefinancingZillowThe weekly mortgage rate chart illustrates the average 30-year fixed interest rate in six-hour intervals.By Lauren BraunMortgage rates for 30-year fixed home loans fell this week, with the rate borrowers were quoted on Zillow at 3.72 percent Tuesday, down three basis points from last week.The 30-year fixed mortgage rate hovered around 3.75 percent throughout the week before dipping slightly."Mortgage rates remained flat most of last week, holding near their lowest levels in a month," said Erin Lantz, vice president of mortgages at Zillow. "We expect rates to be more volatile this week leading up to Friday's monthly jobs report, several important Fed speeches and possible shifts in energy markets after the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' (OPEC) annual summit on Friday."Additionally, the 15-year fixed mortgage rate was 2.91 percent. For 5/1 ARMs, or adjustable rate mortgages, the rate was 2.92 percent.Check Zillow for rate trends and up-to-the-minute mortgage rates for your state, or use the mortgage calculator to calculate monthly payments. Permalink | Email this | Comments
Filed under: Buying, House of the DayZillowThe 600-square-foot home and free-standing artist's studio sit on a very well-manicured fifth of an acre.By Melissa AllisonSome people escape to the Hamptons to party, others to catch a wave.Reading and basking and generally behaving like a writer on retreat appear to be the speed for this little cottage in the Long Island enclave of North Haven.The 600-square-foot dwelling is listed for $550,000, which Curbed Hamptons says is about right for the neighborhood. (We'll do the math for you: It's $917 per square foot.) The cottage has two bedrooms and one bath, plus a free-standing art studio.Located in easy walking distance to shopping and beaches on Sag Harbor and Noyack bays, the home sits on a smidge more than a fifth of an acre, perfect for retreating into the quiet of nature -- or for building a bigger home.The listing agent is Mary Ann Cinelli of Brown Harris Stevens. Permalink | Email this | Comments
Filed under: Buying, EconomyDaniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesBy Josh BoakWASHINGTON -- Slightly more Americans signed contracts to buy homes in October, a modest rebound after two prior monthly declines. The figures add to evidence that the housing market has lost some of its momentum after rapid sales growth earlier this year.The National Association of Realtors said Monday that its seasonally adjusted pending home sales index rose 0.2 percent to 107.7 last month. The index has increased 3.9 percent over the past 12 months.Healthy job gains and low mortgage rates boosted sales for much of the year, but rising home values and limited inventories have limited further growth in the closing months of 2015.The Realtors reported last week that finalized sales have risen 3.9 percent from a year ago, even as buyers have fewer choices because the number of listings on the market has dropped 4.5 percent. A narrow selection of homes on the market has pushed up sales prices 5.8 percent from a year ago to a median of $219,600.The housing market had benefited from hiring that has cut unemployment to 5 percent, down from 5.7 percent a year ago. Average hourly earnings have improved 2.5 percent over the past year -- that slight increase enhanced by low inflation. But wage growth has failed to match the rise in home values, forcing more would-be homebuyers to wait and save for a down payment.Also aiding sales have been lower borrowing rates. Mortgage rates remain well below their historic average of 6 percent. The average, 30-year fixed mortgage rate was 3.95 percent last week, according to mortgage buyer Freddie Mac.But the market is still recovering more than six years after the end of the Great Recession. Home sales have been uneven in different geographic regions. The number of signed contracts advanced in the Northeast and West, while slipping in the Midwest and South. Permalink | Email this | Comments
Filed under: Buying, FinancingShutterstockBy Kayla AlbertAfter receiving the preapproval on your home loan -- the anxiously awaited first big step toward homeownership -- you likely breathed a sigh of relief that the official "proving yourself" part of the process was over.Not so fast, if you're searching for a home during the holidays.Before you get swept up in the tide of frantic holiday shopping, it's important to know that going overboard on gifts for friends and family can impact the total loan amount you're ultimately approved for, and it could even kill the approval entirely.Here are a few ways you can ensure you make it all the way from preapproval to purchase with no hiccups en route.1. Don't apply for new credit or rack up new debt.When you reach the cash register with your arms full of holiday gifts, it's easy to entertain the idea of opening a store credit card. Just fill out the application, add your John Hancock, and you could be walking away with a significant amount off your total purchase.However, opening this line of credit requires a hard credit inquiry -- one that could ding your credit in the process. In addition, you could impact your debt-to-income ratio or signal to the lender that you are a greater risk than they previously thought.Tammi Robson, a mortgage broker at Metro Lenders in Denver, tells her clients about the importance of being debt-free or keeping debt levels stable during the home-buying process. This means avoiding major purchases such as a car or that new dining-room set until the entire home-buying process is complete."Most lenders do 'debt monitoring' during the loan process, meaning they pull internal credit reports," Robson says. "If new debt shows up or credit scores go down, it will affect loan qualification."2. Don't move around large amounts of money.While constantly shuttling funds back and forth might be how you manage your money, it can create a huge headache for lenders, who must be able to track the movement of funds from account to account. If they cannot track the funds, the money movement could appear suspicious -- a red flag signaling undocumented funds or money troubles they hadn't seen before.In addition, if your family is all about doling out the cash for the holidays, you could be putting yourself in a precarious position. Lenders will also be scouring your accounts for any unusual deposits -- those that are 50 percent or more of your monthly income -- or any unusual cash withdrawals. These will need to be thoroughly explained to maintain your approved status.It's all about keeping the status quo between preapproval and closing -- something that can be more challenging during the holiday season.3. Don't ignore your bills.A recent study by Neighborworks determined that one in three American adults has no savings on hand. Pair this with an expected holiday spending rate of $805 per person, and it's no wonder bills become a heavy burden to bear come January.Unfortunately, even if your holiday spending gets out of hand, loan preapproval isn't a pass to be less diligent about maintaining a spot-free bill payment history. In fact, it's more important than ever to make sure all bills are paid on time and in full.Payment history makes up 30 percent of your credit score, and even one late payment can have devastating effects. How much exactly? According to Credit.com, if your payment is over 30 days late (the typical grace period given by lenders), it could lower your score anywhere from 60 to 110 points -- a substantial amount even if you're starting with a high score.If that late payment is on an existing mortgage, a lender could opt to deny your loan altogether. Even if it's not a complete denial, you'll need to explain in writing why the late payment occurred.Here's the bottom line.If you've been preapproved for a mortgage, you've successfully cleared one substantial hurdle -- a bank or lender has looked at your overall financial health and stamped you as a qualified candidate.But preapproval is not the same as approval, and now, as holiday sales are calling, it's important to keep the finish line in sight. After all, you wouldn't want a few financial missteps to make your dream of homeownership come to a crashing halt. Permalink | Email this | Comments
Filed under: Buying, Home ImprovementShutterstockIn New Orleans' French Quarter, much of the housing stock dates from the first half of the 19th century.By Geoff WilliamsIf you like old homes, you may have aspirations of living in a century-old farmhouse or perhaps a row house constructed in the 1800s. It's not for everyone, but for some people there's something charming and almost whimsical about living in a house that's been around longer than your grandparents. It's the history, it's the look and it's certainly the construction. They just don't build them like they used to.That's meant as a compliment, but it's possible to purchase a house that's 100 years old -- or even 200 years or older -- and eventually long to live in a cookie-cutter home that looks like every other residence on the block. As Kent Owen, an insurance agent from Silverhill, Alabama, puts it: "Older homes may look nice at first glance, but think of them like a person who has been divorced a few times. You might be able to make it work, but you'll be finding problems from the past in there somewhere."That might be fine with you, especially if you enjoy do-it-yourself projects. But if you're thinking of buying a century-old house, you want to know what you might be in for -- and get out your wallet. These are some issues century-old homes tend to have in common.Faulty, Dangerous or Old WiringHere's the good news. If you're buying a house that is 100 years old, the wiring probably has been replaced, says Welmoed Sisson, a home inspector with Inspections by Bob, headquartered in Boyds, Maryland.Sometimes, Sisson says, she and her husband will find houses with the original wiring, "and it's almost never in good working order."Here's a fun fact: "Old houses with electricity frequently had knob and tube wiring, which relied on exposed wires running through porcelain tubes and around porcelain knobs," Sisson says.If you hear a homeowner or realtor refer to K&T wiring, they're referring to knob and tube wiring. And a not-so fun fact: "Many insurance companies will not issue coverage on homes with K&T," Sisson says.Corroded Water PipesA major problem for city governments around the country is that water lines have to be replaced. They don't last forever. In fact, the American Water Works Association's 2015 State of the Water Industry report says that replacing aging water lines is currently the most important item on the industry's to-do list. Not surprisingly, if you have a house that's 100 years old or older and previous homeowners haven't replaced the pipes, that job will fall to you.Heather Brewer, who has a public relations firm in Albuquerque, New Mexico, says she owns a beautiful craftsman house built in 1919 (OK, just shy of a 100-year-old house), and water issues have often been a problem from the beginning."Once, as I was cleaning out my desk, my almost-3-year-old son saw my checkbook, pointed to it and said, 'That for the plumber.' Literally, the only time he ever saw me write checks was to the plumbing company," says Brewer, whose son is now almost 4 and likes to pretend he's a plumber when he plays with his toys.There are many reasons for water problems, according to Randal Weeks, a designer, architect and founder of Aiden Gray Home, a home furnishings and decor manufacturer in McKinney, Texas. "Houses like this have been occupied and not throughout the years. That resting water damages and decays the pipes, thus leading to leaks and basically dirty water that takes time and may or may not flush out," Weeks says.And water issues that come with a 100-year-old home won't likely be covered by insurance, Owen points out. Not if those problems have been festering for years, anyway."Preexisting conditions and slow damage that is preventable over time isn't covered," Owen says.Limited BathroomsAt least you'll know this going in, and it won't be a surprise. But it could take some getting used to."Most old homes only have a single bathroom. Having multiple bathrooms in a house is definitely a modern creation," says Rob Williams, a real estate agent at DC Home Buzz, a real estate brokerage in the District of Columbia.Sagging FloorsIt isn't an issue you would typically think about, but you'll find it in a lot of old homes, says Tracy Abriola, a marketing and communications professional who lives in Philadelphia. She and her husband, a real estate agent, are living in her second 100-plus-year-old house."A lot of times," she warns, "you're spending a great deal of money to refinish the hardwood floors, but then find added expense addressing uneven flooring."Lilli Keinaenen agrees. A freelance graphic designer in San Francisco, she owns a house built in 1908, and says that if the floors aren't always even, something else may not be either."It came as a pretty big surprise when we noticed our room ceiling heights aren't the same," says Keinaenen, who is still renovating. "But also, the floor height between one side and the other vary, too, due to one part of the house having been a porch at some point. So our master suite will have odd steps, ups and downs. That's all part of the charm, we hope."Landscaping IssuesThat's right. Your old house may have problems beyond the house. If there are 100-year-old trees near the home, for instance, those may need serious pruning or need to come down, Abriola says.Of course, none of this means you shouldn't buy house that's a centenarian. It does mean that if you're looking for a starter home, make sure your 100-plus home has been maintained well over the years, or be prepared for a lot of updates.That wasn't exactly the case with Keinaenen's home. She and her husband have had to replace their home's foundation, roof, wiring and plumbing over the last few years. They replaced the entire sewer lateral line, rebuilt the front and back stairs, repaired windows, painted the outside and the inside, added water heaters -- and will soon be involved in kitchen and bathroom renovations.Keinaenen says she has no regrets. But you may, if you have big dreams but a small budget. You don't want a starter home to finish you off. Permalink | Email this | Comments
Filed under: Design, Buying, Selling Getty Images/iStockphotoSan Francisco, Denver and Portland led 20 U.S. cities as home prices moved upward at the fastest pace of 2015. By Christopher S. Rugaber AP Economics Writer WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. home prices rose in September from a year earlier at the fastest pace in 13 months as a lack of houses for sale has forced buyers to bid up available properties. The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index, released Tuesday, increased 5.5 percent in September compared with a year ago, the largest annual gain since August 2014. Steady job gains and low mortgage rates have propelled a solid rebound in home sales, which are on track to reach the highest level since 2007. The unemployment rate fell to 5 percent in October as employers added the most jobs since December. Borrowing costs have ticked up but remain below 4 percent, a low level historically. San Francisco reported the largest annual home price increase, at 11.2 percent, followed by Denver at 10.9 percent. Portland had the third largest gain, at 10.1 percent. All 20 cities surveyed reported higher prices than a year earlier. On a monthly basis, prices rose 0.2 percent in September from August. Prices rose in seventeen of 20 cities from the previous month. They fell in Chicago, Cleveland and Washington, D.C. Sales of existing homes, while improving, have been volatile this year. They slipped in October after a healthy jump the previous month, according to the National Association of Realtors. Overall, home sales have increased 3.9 percent in the past 12 months. At the same time, the number of available homes has fallen 4.5 percent. That squeeze has pushed up prices. The typical home sold for $219,600 last month, up nearly 6 percent from a year ago, the Realtors group said Monday. That is the highest median price for the month of October since October 2005, at the height of the housing bubble. Home prices are rising at more than double the pace of inflation and much faster than wages, pricing many Americans out of the housing market. That has also pushed up rents as Americans increasingly stay in apartments. Still, home prices are rising at a much slower pace than the double-digit gains seen in most of 2013. David Blitzer, chairman of the S&P Dow Jones Index Committee, said that the higher prices aren't out of line with rising rents. That's a change from the housing bubble, when home prices soared much higher than rental costs. Several factors are likely holding back the supply of available homes. Many Americans still don't have much housing equity and as a result would profit little from a sale. That may be delaying them from listing their homes. In addition, the average rate for a 30-year mortgage has picked up in the past three years. It is currently almost 4 percent, which is still low. But millions of Americans have refinanced their mortgages at much lower rates and may be reluctant to trade up to a new home because doing so would require taking on a higher mortgage rate. Developers are also building homes at a historically modest pace. Construction of single-family homes dropped 2.4 percent in October compared to the previous month, the Commerce Department said last week. The Case-Shiller index covers roughly half of U.S. homes. The index measures prices compared with those in January 2000 and creates a three-month moving average. The September figures are the latest available. Permalink | Email this | Comments
Filed under: Buying, Financing, RefinancingZillowThe weekly mortgage rate chart illustrates the average 30-year fixed interest rate in six-hour intervals.By Lauren BraunMortgage rates for 30-year fixed home loans fell this week, with the rate borrowers were quoted on Zillow at 3.75 percent Tuesday, down four basis points from last week.The 30-year fixed mortgage rate fell throughout the week before settling at 3.75."Mortgage rates remained fairly flat last week," said Erin Lantz, vice president of mortgages at Zillow. "There is a risk of short-term volatility this holiday-shortened week due to lower than normal market participation and several important data releases."Additionally, the 15-year fixed mortgage rate was 2.93 percent. For 5/1 ARMs, or adjustable-rate mortgages, the rate was 2.92 percent.Check Zillow for mortgage rate trends and up-to-the-minute rates for your state, or use the mortgage calculator to calculate monthly payments at the current rates. Permalink | Email this | Comments
Filed under: Home Improvement, How ToZillowBy Zillow TeamThe big game's on, family and friends have gathered, and there's so much to do. Save yourself some time with this speedy trick for peeling potatoes lightning fast.1. Gather your supplies: a pile of taters and your power drill (with a thoroughly washed bit).Zillow2. Get your potato in position and grab your peeler.Zillow3. Ready, set, peel!Zillow4. Get those bad boys into boiling water and cross "Peel potatoes" off your to-do list.Happy Thanksgiving! Permalink | Email this | Comments
Filed under: How ToGetty ImagesIf you decide to deep fry a turkey, move away from the house and use a long-handled tool, as this firefighter shows.By HomeInsurance.comThe countdown to turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie has begun. Thanksgiving's arrival means many of us are scouring the closet for pants with stretchy waistbands so we can prepare to feast.The holiday is all about giving thanks and spending a day with loved ones. But cooking the festive Thanksgiving meal can lead to fires. And fires can lead to injuries, deaths or property loss, so make sure to follow some safety suggestions for this holiday.Check the StatsThanksgiving Day is the peak day for cooking fires in homes, accounting for about three times as many fires as any other day of the year, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).Each year between 2011 and 2013, Thanksgiving Day produced an average of 2,100 residential building fires, resulting in $28 million in property damage, 50 injuries, and 10 deaths, according to a report by the U.S. Fire Administration.What causes most Thanksgiving fires? More than 71 percent of fires were attributed to cooking, and the highest percentage of fires (24.6 percent) occurred between noon and 3 p.m., the report said.Eyes on the PrizeEr, turkey. Leaving food unattended while it was cooking was the leading cause of Thanksgiving cooking fires, according to the NFPA. You'll want to visit with your guests during this holiday, but it's far more important to pay attention to what's in the oven or on the stovetop so that you don't become a statistic.Also, assign guests items to bring for the meal. Having a potluck-style Thanksgiving dinner will prevent you from doing all the cooking, so you won't be trying to cook multiple dishes at once. Giving your undivided attention to one dish at a time will help to keep food from burning and starting fires.And when you want to chat with your guests while you're cooking, call them into the kitchen with you. Leaving the room while food is in the oven or on the burners is a risky move that makes your insurance provider sweat.Don't Wear Loose Clothing While CookingLet's set the scene: You're wearing a baggy sweater as you cook vegetables in oil or butter, and you divert your attention to talk to a family member. A fire ignites, and, in a panic, you attempt to move the pan to the sink to run water over it. When you move the pan, your loose sleeve connects with the flames and, in a flash, your entire arm is on fire.There are several things wrong with this scenario. The first is that you should avoid wearing loose-fitting clothes while cooking, as it puts you at an increased risk to catch fire and be injured.Secondly, never move a pot that's on fire, or try to put out a grease or oil fire with water. It's best to put a lid on top of the pot to smother the fire, leave the pot where it is, and turn the heat off when the fire has been tamed.Getting distracted while cooking is also a no-no.Keep Fire Hazards Away From the StoveJust like ill-fitting clothing is a hazard that can easily ignite, so are things like potholders, wooden utensils, towels, and flowers. Keep these items away from burners and the oven to reduce the chances of having a kitchen fire.It's also important to keep pets out of the kitchen. Say you just turned off the burner, but your pup comes sniffing around, puts his paws up on the counter, and accidentally slides a towel on top of the still-hot burner without you noticing, causing it to be engulfed in flames. Avoid this type of scenario by keeping the dog in a gated room and keeping other hazards at bay.Know the Biggest RisksFrying is the greatest risk for home fires. So if you're deep-frying the turkey this year, take extra precautions. Keep the fryer away from the house and on even ground. The fryer should be set up more than 10 feet away from the home, and on level ground to keep the oil even. Completely thaw and dry the turkey first. Only fry a turkey after it has been fully thawed and dried off to reduce the possibility of splattering grease, which can ignite fires. Keep children and pets away, and have a fire extinguisher nearby. The last thing you want on Thanksgiving Day is for a child or pet to knock over the fryer and get injured.If You Have a Thanksgiving Day FireThe majority of non-fatal Thanksgiving Day fire injuries occurred when people tried to fight the fires themselves. If your home catches fire when you're preparing Thanksgiving dinner and you don't have a fire extinguisher on hand, just get everyone out of the house.Keep yourself, your family, and your guests safe. You can call 911 when everyone has evacuated.The good news is that property damage and liability coverage for incidents involving fires are typically eligible for coverage under standard home insurance policies. That's something to be thankful for.Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow or AOL Real Estate. Permalink | Email this | Comments
Filed under: Buying, Selling
By Devon Thorsby
Real estate agents see and hear a lot, and while shockingly few things surprise them, there's a fine line between need-to-know and TMI. But the more transparent a client is during the buying or selling process, the better the broker can meet his or her needs.
Luis D. Ortiz, associate broker at Douglas Elliman Real Estate and star of Bravo's "Million Dollar Listing New York," equates the nitty-gritty details of a seller's personal life to a doctor visit. When the doctor asks how often you drink, "everybody says 'socially' when really they drink every night," Ortiz says. "The more transparent you are of a person, the more they can get to the core of the problem."
To get the most out of your relationship with your real estate agent, avoid these red flags that can end up landing you with the wrong agent or the right one running for the hills.
Telling an Agent You're Not Sure About Selling
Agents typically don't collect a fee until their client either sells his or her current home or purchases a new one. Any time and money spent before then on marketing and other services is out of the agent's pocket. Simply dipping your toes in the water to see if your house generates interest -- and then pulling back -- isn't going to be very enticing for a broker.
"I'm not sure I'm going to take that seller on as a client," says Greg Cooper, manager and broker at Berkshire Hathaway Home Services in Indianapolis. "The process costs everybody time and money, so why waste it unnecessarily?"
And as Ortiz points out, putting your house on the market experimentally can have adverse effects on other homes that are actually for sale. "It gives the buyers [a] perception that the apartment is not sellable [or] that the market may be turning into a buyer's market," Ortiz says.
Saying You Don't Have a Time Frame
Not having a deadline can leave brokers unsure of your commitment. Agents understand when their clients have a strict time frame, and can appreciate a few extra days or weeks to close a deal on the right home. But being told they have no target date to sell or purchase a home will leave them wondering if they're wasting their efforts.
Cooper says serious homebuyers will typically have a reason, such as a growing family or moving for a job, that brings about the change in living situation. A lack of deadline puts up a flag that you may also lack commitment to carrying out a deal. "My question for them would be, 'Why do you have all the time in the world? What are you trying to accomplish?' That goes back to, 'We're not really sure what we want to do,' and that's just not a situation, in all candor, that's beneficial 98 percent of the time to the client and the broker," Cooper says.
One of the first questions Ortiz asks on any listing appointment is why the homeowners is selling. "You have to know if this person is real or not," Ortiz says. "I want to know because that sets the conversation and what my expectations should be."
Lying About Your Motivation
Your real estate agent will have to know a lot about you -- your financial health, your needs and wants in a living space and any life-changing events that could cause you to buy or sell at a specific time -- to do his or her job properly. In order to work successfully with your agent, honesty is the best policy.
Cooper says one of the first questions he asks potential clients is why they are looking to sell, primarily to get a full understanding of the clients' needs and how he can best fill them. "If I've got a seller who is changing jobs or who is going through a divorce, those things clearly affect the motivation level they have to sell the home," he says.
An agent you've carefully selected and can trust will keep your personal life private. And by knowing your reason for moving, he or she can better meet your needs. Joe Manausa of Joe Manausa Real Estate in Tallahassee, Florida, says full disclosure can also help prepare agents for what they may face down the line. He gives the example of spouses left in the dark: "There are times we've been hired to sell a home, and after they sign the documents I get a call from one of them saying, 'Hey, he doesn't know it, but we're getting divorced, and that's why we're selling."
Overpricing Your Home
You've hired a professional to help you throughout the process, and it's important to give the agent enough breathing room to be the pro, particularly when it comes to pricing. Starting the process with nonnegotiable expectations is a good way to get off on the wrong foot.
Manausa explains that overpricing your home will often leave it on the market longer because the right buyers won't see it. "People go online and the first thing they do is they shop by price range. If you're overpriced, the people that do see your house [are] comparing it to nicer houses -- they don't want to see yours," Manausa says.
Asking Your Friends What They Think Your Home is Worth
The only thing worse than coming up with your own unrealistic number could be having friends come up with the number, especially when they're not in the real estate business.
Ortiz says a friend's pricing recommendation often show how kind the friend is but has nothing to do with the actual value of the home. "They're all your friends and they'll tell you for the sake of telling you your house is worth $20 million [when] it's only worth five dollars," Ortiz says.
Rather than have the agent compete with other opinions, keep your friends' kind valuations of your home to yourself.
Permalink | Email this | Comments
Pending home sales have mostly plateaued this fall as home shoppers struggle to find enough homes for-sale, according to NAR’s latest report...
Neighbors are increasingly turning to the Internet to vent about one another, their homeowner’s associations, or boards. The public rants...
Only 39 counties will see increases in conforming loan limits next year, while the majority of the country will see limits stay the same.
In the Wall Street Journal, a writer opines what home ownership really means to a generation, way beyond the advantages of equity building....
As the number of visitors to U.S. shopping malls continues to shrink, developers are finding new purposes for the large retail complexes.
Traditional architectural elements add a lot of personality to the home, but find out how these features can also add functionality and value.